Chesterfield Royal Hospital’s Research Team has become one of the UK’s leading figures in the country’s efforts to treat COVID-19.
The team has been recruiting to a number of urgent public health research trials, some of which are designed to explore potential treatments for COVID-19.
Amanda Whileman is the Royal’s Matron for Clinical Research, she said: “We’re recruiting to a number of urgent public health studies, namely a study looking at how our genes play a part in the virus, an observational study to find better ways of diagnosing and managing COVID-19, and ‘RECOVERY’. We are also collecting data for a COVID-19 in pregnancy study using the UK Obstetric Surveillance System (UKOSS) to inform guidance on care for women and babies.
“For us, the ‘RECOVERY’ trial is particularly significant as we’re looking very closely at several different existing treatments recommended for testing by the Chief Medical Officer. The purpose of the research is to find out whether treatments are effective for COVID-19. Patients are randomly selected through a computer process to receive one of the treatment options or no additional treatment. Our results will be combined with those from other hospitals to assess the effectiveness of these treatments.
“The genetics study is also an interesting one where we take a single blood sample to help determine which genes cause some people to be more vulnerable than others. This will help to develop better treatments for the future and give us the opportunity to find out what makes some people sicker than others “
Our Research team was able to act very quickly to national calls for patients to become involved in these trials. Their approach has been particularly impressive given that some of the team are themselves in the ‘at risk’ category.
Amanda added: “There are two studies that we are about to embark on, one being the ‘Principle’ trial which takes us out into the community, working with our Royal Primary Care colleagues. This study is about reducing the rates of hospital admission for patients with suspected COVID-19 for those aged over 50 years with certain underlying health conditions and over the age of 65 with or without an underlying condition. Again, it’s about assessing the effectiveness of trial treatments in preventing hospital admissions.
“REMAP-CAP is an adaptive platform trial designed to randomise critical care patients to a variety of potential treatment options including convalescent plasma, to determine the most effective treatment.”
“It is quite remarkable that we only started on our journey of recruitment to COVID-19 studies on 19th March, yet have managed to collect a significant amount of data. We commenced recruitment to the RECOVERY trial on 26th March and the genetics study on 21st April.
“We’ve had to split ourselves into two teams; those that are able to be patient facing and those who are in the ‘at risk’ category themselves. Both teams have been working on a rota, seven days a week to ensure we are able to offer the research studies to all eligible patients. The research nurses going onto the wards have been educating the staff within that clinical area about the studies as well as approaching, consenting and randomising patients into the trials.
“The team that is unable to attend the wards has been working closely with critical care in order to enroll patients remotely into studies. They have been liaising with patients’ families to explain the nature of the studies to keep them informed, working tirelessly to input the much needed data onto the databases. We’ve worked around the clock to ensure that the answers we are looking for in relation to COVID-19 and its treatment are found as soon as possible.
“We have been overwhelmed with the support from all of our colleagues. Nurses have offered support and worked additional hours to help input data and with recruitment where appropriate alongside incredible support from our pharmacists and clinicians. We are extremely proud that we are one of the highest recruiting sites in the UK for the RECOVERY trial. This, without a doubt, is down to the passion and commitment the research team and our colleagues have shown to deliver a gold standard service to the patients in our community. We also cannot forget that without patients volunteering to take part, none of this research could take place. We are incredibly grateful for their participation and support.”